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No. 8 Toyota Sweeps Fuji Practice Sessions

Brendon Hartley puts No. 8 Toyota on top again in third 6H Fuji practice session…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

The No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid completed a sweep of the Free Practice sessions for this weekend’s 6 Hours of Fuji, as Brendon Hartley led the way on Saturday morning.

Hartley became the third different driver in Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 8 lineup to lead the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1 field with a time of 1:25.621 set early in the hourlong FP3 segment.

This came after his co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took turns to pace the two 90-minute sessions held on Friday.

Toyota’s No. 7 car went second-quickest in FP3, with Jose Maria Lopez initially slotting in behind the Japanese marque’s sister car before Kamui Kobayashi closed the gap between the two cars later on.

Kobayashi’s time of 1:25.827 established a gap of 0.206 seconds between the Toyotas, although the No. 7 is intended to be four-tenths slower than the No. 8 per the pre-event success handicap system.

Rebellion Racing finished Saturday morning in third courtesy of Gustavo Menezes’ 1:26.172 effort, which put the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson half a second off the leader.

Team LNT’s pair of Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AERs rounded out the LMP1 order with Mike Simpson posting a 1:27.039 to go fourth overall, ahead of Ben Hanley.

In GTE-Pro, Porsche led the way through the 1:37.501 benchmark set by Gianmaria Bruni 10 minutes into the session.

Bruni, who shares the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR with Richard Lietz, ended up 0.195 seconds ahead of Nicki Thiim in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

Aston’s two cars placed second and third, with the two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evos sitting in fourth and fifth – seven-tenths and a second off the pace – above the No. 92 Porsche which propped up the class.

All but two of the GTE-Pro cars were beaten by the top four entries in GTE-Am, which set a fierce pace with Matt Campbell going quickest of the lot on a 1:37.807.

The Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche driver finished 0.227 seconds clear of AF Corse’s Nicklas Nielsen, while the two Team Project 1 Porsches of Matteo Cairoli and Felipe Fraga wound up third and fourth.

LMP2 was headed up by Nyck de Vries in the Racing Team Nederland Oreca 07 Gibson, with the Dutchman going to the top with a time of 1:29.008 that eclipsed Jota driver Anthony Davidson’s previous session-best by half a second.

RESULTS: Free Practice 3

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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